These are the best books on executive coaching that I know.
Perhaps you’re currently a coach who wants to up their game, researching proven methodologies to further empower your clients.
Alternatively, if you’re a business leader, team manager or employee who wants to support colleagues in developing executive presence, then these are the must-read titles.
Let’s dive in, but first, we’ll define the topic.
Executive coaching focuses on career and business advice to help clients and organizations thrive.
It covers an array of areas, from leadership to motivation and decision making, crucial skills in the business world.
Who are these books for?
Well, they’re for anyone looking for a better understanding of career performance.
You might already be a coach but desire a formal understanding of principles employed by the best coaches around the world, that you can implement into your own practice.
If you’re a business leader you might want to learn about the tools to transform your organizational culture and team dynamics, leading to happier, motivated and high-performing employees.
These books might also serve hiring managers well, who seek to recruit executive coaching services but require a greater understanding of the role and how it would work within their company or business.
How it works in organizations
Where executive coaching delivers is in its flexibility.
It works on the macro level, transforming the overall organizational entity, but can also focus more specifically on teams, right down to employees themselves.
Organizational culture is everything. From Facebook villages of free food and child care, it’s easy to see how companies strive to improve their company ethos.
After all, such benefits and open acts of kindness create a kind of shared identity that contributes to a brothers and sisters in arms mentality and ferociously loyal employees.
Executive coaching is one such investment that can help to forge such a motivated culture.
Getting more granular, coaches are also hired by companies to work in specific areas of an organization, which have numerous moving parts.
From the relationship between C-Suite and upper management, in addition to collaboration between teams, it’s also vital to examine all aspects of internal operations.
Ideally, holistic assessment results in improves group dynamics and optimized performance.
In this way, team and group training can work well to resolve conflicts, iron kinks and strengthen relationships in a safe environment.
Cultivating motivated and ambitious employees on an individual level contributes to the overall success of the organization.
Therefore, coaches may start with C-Suite executives who want to implement changes in the strategy that trickle down through their organization.
From there, they may progress through the management chain, as naturally, every employee has distinct goals that need to be nurtured.
On a personal level, careers constitute a large part of our lives and the feeling of positive change fosters significant agency.
Executive coaching can help an employee grow into a new role by creating the confidence to undertake further training.
Alternatively, it might help them sidestep within their organization and undertake a completely new challenge.
There’s a huge cultural zeitgeist currently around finding our life plan and purpose.
Much of this stems from discontent at work, and the tendency for our identities to be so intertwined with our careers as to be indistinguishable.
For this reason, many employees are taking it upon themselves to employ executive coaching services independently of their company or boss.
Sometimes coaches work with entrepreneurs and startup founders to clarify their vision and at other times with those seeking renewed direction and purpose in their career.
The Best Books on Executive Coaching
1. The Psychology of Executive Coaching (Bruce Peltier )
Over 360 pages of coaching quality. It’s a crossover book – therapists looking to develop their business coaching acumen and executive coaches seeking a sound psychological foundation to their work with clients. It isn’t a how-to guide per se, but more of a reference book providing a conceptual framework for principles that coaches rely on in their everyday practice. Topics cover everything from leadership to emotional intelligence and applying a person-centred approach. A great book for diving in for refreshers on particular bits of theory that you can readily apply to the lives of your clients.
2. The Coaching Habit (Michael Bungay Stanier)
Perhaps the antithesis of the preceding book, this one is short and sweet, covering practical application of coaching. It’s also aimed at a slightly different audience, meant to be utilised by leaders and managers in the workplace, but no doubt spawning a healthy cadre of new converts to the coaching game. Underpinned by research, the book focuses on how to change and ultimately empower your relationships with colleagues and employees. The book emphasises the importance of asking questions and attentive listening, the essence of good coaching.
“Tell less and ask more. Your advice is not as good as you think it is.”
3. Becoming an Exceptional Executive Coach
A great actionable read, allowing you to gain more clarity in your practice, with hands-on advice from 5 experienced coaches. The text sheds light on developing your own personal coaching model, essential as a means to differentiate you from competitors. It’s very practical in its approach, discussing where you might position yourself in the executive coaching landscape, while addressing the common issues that many coaches face when dealing with their clients.
4. Executive Coaching for Results
Specifically billed as not a how-to-coach book. Rather, the authors draw upon their experience having worked with huge names such as IMB and Disney to allow you to think more strategically and link your efforts to the bottom line. Having said that, it is multi-faceted, meaning that coaches, leaders and organisations will all benefit from its insight. The research, authors’ background and hands-on experience speaks to a results-orientated read with tactical, real-world examples.
5. The Inner Game of Tennis (Timothy Gallwey)
Finally for a bit of a wildcard entry (pun intended) on the list, but I couldn’t resist. To be honest, this doesn’t just belong on the executive coaching list, but is instead essential reading for anyone seeking to support, advise or instruct. This cult classic isn’t just about tennis or sporting performance, but can be readily applied to any other area, including business. From the perspective of the client, it emphasises aspects of Buddhist philosophy, staying present and relaxed concentration, allowing us to get out of our own way. From the coaching side, it promotes the use of under instruction and unobtrusive guidance, allowing our clients to feel their own way forward into positive change.